Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen is a filmmaker with over 20 years of quality movie productions. He has to his credit movies like ‘The Soul That Sinneth’, ‘Private Sin’, ‘Enslaved’, ‘Moment of Truth’, ‘Games Men Play’, ‘Yahoo Millionaire’, ‘Invasion 1897’, among others. In this interview with Tosin Clegg he talks about his new movie, ATM, Nollywood and much more
What is your new movie about?
My new movie, ATM, is a comedy. As you know, there is wild reaction from the cinema views. It’s a comedy just for the season. Simple language that’s simply put. It tells a story of a young Nigerian who thinks the only way he could survive was to look for a foreign wife, which he eventually got and brought to Nigeria, hoping that his life was going to change, but on the arrival of the lady he met the unbelievable and he couldn’t wake up from the reality of what met him.
Tell us about your lead character
She is a British woman called Claire, popularly known on social media as Oyinbo Princess. Others are Alex Ukubo, Francis Odega, Yvonne Jegede, who are seasoned artistes that I carefully selected to interpret the movie, and it’s been quite good.
How long did it take to produce the movie?
I was on this project for a year. It was first conceived when I ran into the lady on social media and was quite impressed about what I saw. The name ATM was derived from the film and it means Authentic Tentative Marriage. Also, massive promotion of the movie has been on since it opened at the cinema recently after a big premiere.
What are your plans for the future?
As a film maker I will keep making films. I am not willing to stop at all and we are concentrating on what we have going on right now, which is the ATM movie.
Tell us about you previous works?
I have done a lot of movies. I made the popular Isakaba, Games Women Play, Games Men Play, Behind Closed Doors, Adesuwa, and the biggest recently is Invasion 1897. It’s quite a number, as I have made well over 100 to 200 Nollywood movies.
How’s Nollywood doing?
Right now, our movies are in the cinema and showing side by side with foreign movies, though there is this apartheid by Nigerians towards our movies, which is very pathetic. And that’s the essence of this movie I made, ATM. It’s about how we Nigerians don’t believe in our own and, it’s from the mouth of the foreigner that the greatness of Nigeria is revealed. Do you even know that most people cannot recite a line of these foreign movies they go to watch, when the films end. They just want to follow follow. They leave our own where they can get great messages and it’s a terrible attitude by all, as we all prefer foreign movies, but we now found a girl who promotes our own. I believe we have a collective responsibility to do this well. As regards this movie, a great message is passed behind the comedy that cracks people up. We talk about globalisation but we are not contributing anything to the globe. We are always taking and now we find a British-born lady, who learnt how to speak pidgin by watching Nigerian films, coming here to feature in a film and getting an appearance on BBC, because of this work, and all major newspapers in the UK has featured her from what we don’t value and now she has become famous. At the premiere, the British embassy reps came to celebrate her. She has been celebrated at home from our creation. So, that goes to tell a lot of message that the Nigerian government has a lot to do, after chasing corruption. Somehow, the music industry has been able to grow and we hope we will draw respect and appreciation to contents of Nigerians that are good enough; but the ones that have succeeded should be appreciated and encouraged.
Where do you draw inspiration?
God almighty and my passion have kept me this long. I am very passionate about what I do and I’m resilient. I am very determined and we keep pushing. My last movie, Invasion 1897 played in 15 to 20 cities around the world and that can only be passion. So, we keep pushing it. And I am set to correct the theory as regards movies and cinema in Nigeria; it must change. The authorities need to wake up to their responsibilities.
In South Africa on Tuesdays all radio stations are required to play no less than 90 per cent of South African original music and that’s the way to go. The cinemas can be compelled to do the same by the government through incentives and encouragement that we must develop our own home-grown production. And it cannot improve when people are not sure of the quality they are going to see.
What is your film budget?
My last movie I spent over $400,000. And that was in the making of the movie. It was in major festivals around the world. So, my resilience has kept me on and I’m not ready to stop at all.
What will you be doing five years from now?
In five years, I would still be doing my work more strongly, bigger and more globally.
Tell us about the quality of your films
I give room for details in my movies. I’m very detailed in my works. I believe in human capacity and in storytelling. When I say I want to make a comedy I go all out to make a comedy. Those that saw my last movie would see that the new one is of two different genres. For me, resilience, eye for detail, human capacity are very important.
What has been your contribution to Nollywood?
My consistency has done it for me. Everyone knows my belief in Nollywood is strong; that faith and determination has done just the magic for me. My resilience has been my major up and that’s my contribution. There was a time when people wanted to differentiate old Nollywood and new Nollywood but I said I’m a film maker. That’s what it is. From home video to cinema it’s been a good transition for me. Whatever film that comes my way I give my all. Above it all, I have this dynamic spirit; so in whatever job or genre, I give best and get the best.
Are there talents in the industry?
There are a lot of great talents. The ones we have before and the ones we have now, but importantly everyone comes with their own uniqueness and let’s appreciate them all from that angle. Some of them understand that they must build more on their brands and some want to keep things on the surface.
We do you mean by seize?
When I say seize. My next project must seize the cinema and if anybody must come to the cinema then you must come to see the next project from Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen.